Lawmakers to work across aisle, chambers on government waste

“There are a lot of things we don’t do right around here,” McCaskill said at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs. “One of them is we probably don’t work together often enough across the hall, so to speak.”

Issa’s panel was discussing the GAO’s biennial report, released this week, on areas with high risk for waste. In its study, Congress’ investigative agency placed the Interior Department’s oversight of oil-and-gas resources on to the list, while removing the 2010 Census and a Pentagon program on personnel security clearance. 

The study found that Interior’s management of oil-and-gas issues faced challenges in collecting revenue, hiring and training sufficient staff, and in its efforts to reorganize. The department announced last year that it was breaking down what was once known as the Minerals Management Service.

In all, seven of the 30 areas listed by GAO were related to the Pentagon, including the department’s management of its contracts. The Pentagon’s management of its supply chain and its acquisition of weapons systems were two of six areas that have been on the GAO’s list since 1990.

McCaskill, the chairwoman of a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on contracting oversight, said at the hearing that many of the government’s spending contracts were related to the Defense Department. She testified at the request of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the House oversight panel's ranking member. 

The senator said that holding the Pentagon accountable would not only save taxpayers money, it would also “provide America’s men and women in uniform with the resources they need in a fiscally responsible way.”

In his testimony before the House panel, Gene Dodaro, head of the GAO, said Medicare fraud and the managing of federal property were areas of particular concern. He added that the two issues removed from the list in this report had received extensive congressional oversight. 

For his part, Issa asked McCaskill during the hearing whether lawmakers from both parties and chambers could meet to regularly discuss these sorts of issues.

“I think it would be terrific if we just met for coffee once a month and talked over what you’re doing and what we’re doing,” McCaskill said.

“We’ll have coffee, juice and, if my personal accountant will settle for it, maybe even a couple of doughnuts,” Issa responded. 

Both the California Republican and Cummings have called the GAO report a necessary tool in fighting government waste.

At the hearing Thursday, Issa said that every dollar that is saved by eliminating waste and fraud “should be applauded, encouraged and, as they say in Las Vegas, doubled down on.”